06 December 2021

With summer well and truly on the way, NSW Health is once again warning communities to be on the lookout for the slithery serpents and eight legged critters.

According to figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, people in NSW are among those most likely to be bitten by snakes and spiders when out and about.

“We have some of the most venomous critters in the world, from the brown snake to the funnel web spider but thankfully, plenty of antivenom available to treat any bites,” said Genevieve Adamo, Senior Poisons Specialist at the Poisons Information Centre.

“While bites from these types of creatures are rare, it’s important to know what to do and act quickly, as it could just save your life or the life of a friend or loved one.”

With the recent mouse plague and the wet and humid weather, wildlife experts have predicted an increase in numbers of both venomous snakes and spiders.

NSW Health urges people to remember the following advice if they get bitten:

For snake bites – seek immediate medical attention, even for a suspected bite. If someone has collapsed following a snake bite start CPR immediately, this can be lifesaving. If someone is bitten you should keep them still, call an ambulance and apply a pressure immobilisation bandage. Tight tourniquets should not be applied, and the bite site should not be washed, cut or sucked. Symptoms from a venomous bite can include nausea, vomiting and a headache, however, first aid should be applied regardless of whether these symptoms are present.

For spider bites – most spider bites are harmless. However, if a person has been bitten by a big black spider or funnel web, it is a medical emergency. If someone is bitten you should keep them still, call an ambulance and apply a pressure immobilisation bandage, with a further bandage to the entire limb. A bite from a funnel web can cause severe pain, sweating, vomiting, difficulty breathing and muscle twitching. A redback spider bite may result in pain and redness, but it is not considered life threatening so does not require bandaging.

“Snake season usually peaks in late December and January but we have already seen an increase in snake bites from this time last year,” said Ms Adamo.

"The most important thing to know in a situation like this is how to perform the correct first aid. This can make a significant difference to treatment and outcomes."

For further information visit: NSW Positions Information Centre - Have I been bitten by something poisonous? or call 13 11 26.

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